Human rights undermined when used as political tool

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
UN Human Rights Council (Image from un.org)
The Human Rights Council (HRC) is a leading human rights agency in the UN system. Russia believes the HRC’s fundamental operating principle should be based on cooperation between states and respect for each other’s sovereignty and equality.

The bulk of the responsibility for protecting human rights rests with individual states, while international organizations and institutions should play an auxiliary role. The UN and regional agencies should primarily focus on technical assistance to the countries that need it.

We believe that the promotion and protection of human rights should be an objective in itself and not a political instrument nor a tool of geopolitics. In the HRC, we speak against politicization of human rights. Forcing the standards of one group of countries upon all other countries is unacceptable. Human rights must not be used as a pretext to undermine the principles of international law and the UN Charter or to justify interference in the internal affairs of others, let alone the threat or use of military force to settle disputes and conflicts. These actions will only further complicate the situation in a target country and create conditions for further violations of human rights.

Nor should human rights be used for political pressure. The subject can and should be addressed through a constructive dialogue and cooperation. The adoption of politicized resolutions on human rights can only antagonize states but cannot improve the situation. Russia is against narrow interpretations of the international human rights standards. What is typical of one society or region is not necessarily good for others. Each state and society has the right to choose their own path of development. We believe the HRC should pay equal attention to all groups of rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural ones, as well as the right to development.

The UN bodies authorized to deal with human rights should not infringe on the competence of other UN bodies, including on issues of peace and security, development, counterterrorism, human trafficking and the like. Human rights should be considered in the light of other key UN priorities, primarily, peace, security and sustainable development. Respect for human rights cannot be ensured without compliance with these fundamental provisions.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.